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7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.


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7. In whom we have redemption. The apostle is still illustrating the material cause, — the manner in which we are reconciled to God through Christ. By his death he has restored us to favor with the Father; and therefore we ought always to direct our minds to the blood of Christ, as the means by which we obtain divine grace. After mentioning that, through the blood of Christ, we obtain redemption, he immediately styles it the forgiveness of sins, — to intimate that we are redeemed, because our sins are not imputed to us. Hence it follows, that we obtain by free grace that righteousness by which we are accepted of God, and freed from the chains of the devil and of death. The close connection which is here preserved, between our redemption itself and the manner in which it is obtained, deserves our notice; for, so long as we remain exposed to the judgment of God, we are bound by miserable chains, and therefore our exemption from guilt, becomes an invaluable freedom.

According to the riches of his grace. He now returns to the efficient cause, — the largeness of the divine kindness, which has given Christ to us as our Redeemer. Riches, and the corresponding word overflow, in the following verse, are intended to give us large views of divine grace. The apostle feels himself unable to celebrate, in a proper manner, the goodness of God, and desires that the contemplation of it would occupy the minds of men till they are entirely lost in admiration. How desirable is it that men were deeply impressed with “the riches of that grace” which is here commended! No place would any longer be found for pretended satisfactions, or for those trifles by which the world vainly imagines that it can redeem itself; as if the blood of Christ, when unsupported by additional aid, had lost all its efficacy. 112112     “Comme si le sang de Christ sechoit et perdoit sa vigueur.” “As if the blood of Christ were dried up, and lost its force.”

8. In all wisdom. He now comes to the formal cause, the preaching of the gospel, by which the goodness of God overflows upon us. 113113     ἧς ἐπερίσσευσεν — “ἧς for , (by a common Grecism, in which the relative is attracted by the antecedent,) if, at least, we take ἐπερίσσευσεν, with many modern expositors, in a neuter sense, ‘in which he hath renewed his abundant goodness to us;’ but if, with the ancient and some modern ones, in an active sense, ‘to make to abound,’ (as in 2 Corinthians 4:15; 9:8,) the ἧς will be for ἥν, meaning, ‘which he has bountifully bestowed upon us.'“ — Bloomfield. It is through faith that we receive Christ, by whom we come to God, and by whom we enjoy the privilege of adoption. Paul gives to the gospel the magnificent appellations of wisdom and prudence, for the purpose of leading the Ephesians to despise all contrary doctrines. The false apostles insinuated themselves, under the pretense of imparting views more elevated than the elementary instructions which Paul conveyed. And the devil, in order to undermine our faith, labors, as far as he can, to disparage the gospel. Paul, on the other hand, builds up the authority of the gospel, that believers may rest upon it with unshaken confidence. All wisdom means — full or perfect wisdom.

9. Having made known to us the mystery of his will. Some were alarmed at the novelty of his doctrine. With a view to such persons, he very properly denominates it a mystery of the divine will, and yet a mystery which God has now been pleased to reveal. As he formerly ascribed their election, so he now ascribes their calling, to the good pleasure of God. The Ephesians are thus led to consider that Christ has been made known, and the gospel preached to them, not because they deserved any such thing, but because it pleased God.

Which he hath purposed in himself. All is wisely and properly arranged. What can be more just than that his purposes, with which men are unacquainted, should be known to God alone, so long as he is pleased to conceal them, — or, again, that it should be in his own will and power to fix the time when they shall be communicated to men? The decree to adopt the Gentiles is declared to have been till now hidden in the mind of God, but so hidden, that God reserved it in his own power until the time of the revelation. Does any one now complain of it as a new and unprecedented occurrence, that those who were formerly “without God in the world,” (Ephesians 2:12,) should be received into the church? Will he have the hardihood to deny that the knowledge of God is greater than that of men?

10. That in the dispensation of the fullness of times. That no man may inquire, why one time rather than another was selected, the apostle anticipates such curiosity, by calling the appointed period the fullness of times, the fit and proper season, as he also did in a former epistle. (Galatians 4:4) Let human presumption restrain itself, and, in judging of the succession of events, let it bow to the providence of God. The same lesson is taught by the word dispensation, for by the judgment of God the lawful administration of all events is regulated.

That he might gather together in one. In the old translation it is rendered (instaurare) restore; to which Erasmus has added (summatim) comprehensively. I have chosen to abide closely by the meaning of the Greek word, ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι, 114114     ‘᾿Ανακεφαλαιώσασθαι “I have compared this word with συγκεφαλαιοῦσθαι in the writings of Xenophon, so as to bring out this sense, that ‘to Christ, as the Head, all things are subject.’ I am confirmed in this opinion by Chrysostom, who explains it in this manner: μίαν κεφαλὴν ἅπασιν ἐπέθηκε τὸ κατὰ σάρκα Χριστόν, ‘he hath given to all one head, Christ according to the flesh.’ Polybius. also uses συγκεφαλαιοῦσθαι, instead of ἀνακεφαλαιοῦσθαι. So that it is evident that those two words are employed indiscriminately.” — Raphelius. because it is more agreeable to the context. The meaning appears to me to be, that out of Christ all things were disordered, and that through him they have been restored to order. And truly, out of Christ, what can we perceive in the world but mere ruins? We are alienated from God by sin, and how can we but present a broken and shattered aspect? The proper condition of creatures is to keep close to God. Such a gathering together (ἀνακεφαλαίωσις) as might bring us back to regular order, the apostle tells us, has been made in Christ. Formed into one body, we are united to God, and closely connected with each other. Without Christ, on the other hand, the whole world is a shapeless chaos and frightful confusion. We are brought into actual unity by Christ alone.

But why are heavenly beings included in the number? The angels were never separated from God, and cannot be said to have been scattered. Some explain it in this manner. Angels are said to be gathered together, because men have become members of the same society, are admitted equally with them to fellowship with God, and enjoy happiness in common with them by means of this blessed unity. The mode of expression is supposed to resemble one frequently used, when we speak of a whole building as repaired, many parts of which were ruinous or decayed, though some parts remained entire.

This is no doubt true; but what hinders us from saying that the angels also have been gathered together? Not that they were ever scattered, but their attachment to the service of God is now perfect, and their state is eternal. What comparison is there between a creature and the Creator, without the interposition of a Mediator? So far as they are creatures, had it not been for the benefit which they derived from Christ, they would have been liable to change and to sin, and consequently their happiness would not have been eternal. Who then will deny that both angels and men have been brought back to a fixed order by the grace of Christ? Men had been lost, and angels were not beyond the reach of danger. By gathering both into his own body, Christ hath united them to God the Father, and established actual harmony between heaven and earth.

11. Through whom also we have obtained an inheritance. Hitherto he has spoken generally of all the elect; he now begins to take notice of separate classes. When he says, WE have obtained, he speaks of himself and of the Jews, or, perhaps more correctly, of all who were the first fruits of Christianity; and afterwards he comes to the Ephesians. It tended not a little to confirm the faith of the Ephesian converts, that he associated them with himself and the other believers, who might be said to be the first-born in the church. As if he had said, “The condition of all godly persons is the same with yours; for we who were first called by God owe our acceptance to his eternal election.” Thus, he shews, that, from first to last, all have obtained salvation by free grace, because they have been freely adopted according to eternal election.

Who worketh all things. The circumlocution employed in describing the Supreme Being deserves attention. He speaks of Him as the sole agent, and as doing everything according to His own will, so as to leave nothing to be done by man. In no respect, therefore, are men admitted to share in this praise, as if they brought anything of their own. God looks at nothing out of himself to move him to elect them, for the counsel of his own will is the only and actual cause of their election. This may enable us to refute the error, or rather the madness, of those who, whenever they are unable to discover the reason of God’s works, exclaim loudly against his design.

12. That we should be to the praise of his glory. Here again he mentions the final cause of salvation; for we must eventually become illustrations of the glory of God, if we are nothing but vessels of his mercy. The word glory, by way of eminence, (κατ ᾿ ἐξοχὴν) denotes, in a peculiar manner, that which shines in the goodness of God; for there is nothing that is more peculiarly his own, or in which he desires more to be glorified, than goodness.

13. In whom ye also. He associates the Ephesians with himself, and with the rest of those who were the first fruits; for he says that they, in like manner, trusted in Christ. His object is, to shew that both had the same faith; and therefore we must supply the word trusted from the twelfth verse. He afterwards states that they were brought to that hope by the preaching of the gospel.

Two epithets are here applied to the gospel, — the word of truth, and the gospel of your salvation. Both deserve our careful attention. Nothing is more earnestly attempted by Satan than to lead us either to doubt or to despise the gospel. Paul therefore furnishes us with two shields, by which we may repel both temptations. In opposition to every doubt, let us learn to bring forward this testimony, that the gospel is not only certain truth, which cannot deceive, but is, by way of eminence, (κατ ᾿ ἐξοχὴν,) the word of truth, as if, strictly speaking, there were no truth but itself. If the temptation be to contempt or dislike of the gospel, let us remember that its power and efficacy have been manifested in bringing to us salvation. The apostle had formerly declared that

“it is the power of God to salvation to every one that believeth,” (Romans 1:16;)

but here he expresses more, for he reminds the Ephesians that, having been made partakers of salvation, they had learned this by their own experience. Unhappy they who weary themselves, as the world generally does, in wandering through many winding paths, neglecting the gospel, and pleasing themselves with wild romances, —

“ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth,”
(2 Timothy 3:7)

or to find life! But happy they who have embraced the gospel, and whose attachment to it is steadfast; for this, beyond all doubt, is truth and life.

In whom also, after that ye believed. Having maintained that the gospel is certain, he now comes to the proof. And what higher surety can be found than the Holy Spirit? “Having denominated the gospel the word of truth, I will not prove it by the authority of men; for you have the testimony of the Spirit of God himself, who seals the truth of it in your hearts.” This elegant comparison is taken from Seals, which among men have the effect of removing doubt. Seals give validity both to charters and to testaments; anciently, they were the principal means by which the writer of a letter could be known; and, in short, a seal distinguishes what is true and certain, from what is false and spurious. This office the apostle ascribes to the Holy Spirit, not only here, but in another part of this Epistle, (Ephesians 4:30,) and in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, (2 Corinthians 1:22.) Our minds never become so firmly established in the truth of God as to resist all the temptations of Satan, until we have been confirmed in it by the Holy Spirit. The true conviction which believers have of the word of God, of their own salvation, and of religion in general, does not spring from the judgment of the flesh, or from human and philosophical arguments, but from the sealing of the Spirit, who imparts to their consciences such certainty as to remove all doubt. The foundation of faith would be frail and unsteady, if it rested on human wisdom; and therefore, as preaching is the instrument of faith, so the Holy Spirit makes preaching efficacious.

But is it not the faith itself which is here said to be sealed by the Holy Spirit? If so, faith goes before the sealing. I answer, there are two operations of the Spirit in faith, corresponding to the two parts of which faith consists, as it enlightens, and as it establishes the mind. The commencement of faith is knowledge: the completion of it is a firm and steady conviction, which admits of no opposing doubt. Both, I have said, are the work of the Spirit. No wonder, then, if Paul should declare that the Ephesians, who received by faith the truth of the gospel, were confirmed in that faith by the seal of the Holy Spirit.

With that Holy Spirit of promise. This title is derived from the effect produced; for to him we owe it that the promise of salvation is not made to us in vain. As God promises in his word, “that he will be to us a Father,” (2 Corinthians 6:18,) so he gives to us the evidence of having adopted us by the Holy Spirit.

14. Which is the earnest 115115     “The original word ἀρ᾿ῥαβών, seems properly to denote the first part of the price that is paid in any contract, as an earnest and security of the remainder, and which, therefore, is not taken back, but kept till the residue is paid to complete the whole sum. And thus it differs from a pledge, which is somewhat given for the security of a contract, but redeemed and restored, when the contract is completed; but it must be owned that the word is used to denote both an earnest and a pledge, and in either sense it is very properly applied to the Holy Spirit of promise.” — Chandler. of our inheritance. This phrase is twice used by Paul in another Epistle. (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5.) The metaphor is taken from bargains, in which, when a pledge has been given and accepted, the whole is confirmed, and no room is left for a change of mind. Thus, when we have received the Spirit of God, his promises are confirmed to us, and no dread is felt that they will be revoked. In themselves, indeed, the promises of God are not weak; but, until we are supported by the testimony of the Spirit, we never rest upon them with unshaken confidence. The Spirit, then, is the earnest of our inheritance of eternal life, until the redemption, that is, until the day of complete redemption is arrived. So long as we are in this world, our warfare is sustained by hope, and therefore this earnest is necessary; but when the possession itself shall have been obtained, the necessity and use of the earnest will then cease.

The significance of a pledge lasts no longer than till both parties have fulfilled the bargain; and, accordingly, he afterwards adds, ye are sealed to the day of redemption, (Ephesians 4:30,) which means the day of judgment. Though we are now redeemed by the blood of Christ, the fruit of that redemption does not yet appear; for “every creature groaneth, desiring to be delivered from the bondage of corruption. And not only they, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body;” for we have not yet obtained it, but by hope. (Romans 8:21-23.) But we shall obtain it in reality, when Christ shall appear to judgment. Such is the meaning of the word redemption in the passage now quoted from the Epistle to the Romans, and in a saying of our Lord,

“Look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.”
(Luke 21:28.)

Περιποίησις, which we translate the possession obtained, is not the kingdom of heaven, or a blessed immortality, but the Church itself. This is added for their consolation, that they might not think it hard to cherish their hope till the day of Christ’s coming, or be displeased that they have not yet obtained the promised inheritance; for such is the common lot of the whole Church.

To the praise of his glory. The word praise, as in the twelfth verse, Ephesians 1:12 signifies “making known.” 116116     “Louange yci se prend comme ci devant pour la publication et manifestation.” “Here, as formerly, ‘praise’ denotes proclamation and manifestation.” The glory of God may sometimes be concealed, or imperfectly exhibited. But in the Ephesians God had given proofs of his goodness, that his glory might be celebrated and openly proclaimed. Those persons, therefore, who slighted the calling of the Ephesians, might be charged with envying and slighting the glory of God.

The frequent mention of the glory of God ought not to be regarded as superfluous, for what is infinite cannot be too strongly expressed. This is particularly true in commendations of the Divine mercy, for which every godly person will always feel himself unable to find adequate language. He will be more ready to utter, than other men will be to hear, the expression of praise; for the eloquence both of men and angels, after being strained to the utmost, falls immeasurably below the vastness of this subject. We may likewise observe, that there is not a more effectual method of shutting the mouths of wicked men, than by shewing that our views tend to illustrate, and theirs to obscure, the glory of God.




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